Friday, March 30, 2018

Passover 2018

50 years ago 

    1. the Freedom Haggadah was written to object

to American injustice

to police killing Black men

to the killing of MLKing 

to our endless war
to demand action from the FBI on the killing of civil rights workers
      2. Israel had won a war which gave them control of new land - the West Bank

It was to be used as a bargaining chip to bring it peace

Now, where have we come to?  50 years. 

    1. we are in an endless war

    2. Police are killing black men. 

    3. Our president has found that there are ‘good people’ among

neo nazis carrying swastikas, chanting Jews will not replace us. 

    4. Israel continues to occupy the West Bank

It has taken Palestinian’s lands, 

Treated its peoples without basic human rights 

Denied them equality under a regime of law.
    5. Our country is displacing (removing) thousands of people

Some have come here as seekers of asylum. 
If there was ever a time for the freedom haggadah it is now. 

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Trump’s Policies to End Pluralism – Losing America (1)

The attack on voting rights is but one of the elements in this administration’s strategy to hold together it’s coalition of old Jim Crow South, and anti-Hispanic and Native peoples in the West.  The strategy is shaping up as an attack on policies that disproportionately help those poorer minority populations.

This appears to be designed to reestablish the pecking order (not the power structure) of the Jim Crow South, and the anti-native American West.  It will enable poor whites to once again feel they are not at the bottom of the heap.  It is the old strategy of the Southern elites: splitting the poor so they can’t effect change.

To this end, three major tools are being crafted:

  • First, the taking away of voting rights of poor minorities.  Robert Barnes reported in yesterday’s Post that Chief Justice Roberts has clarified that his vote against the review of the NC voter ID case is not be understood as support for getting rid of those laws.  Further, Barnes reports Gorsuch is likely on the side of the new voter restrictions.

  • Second, Sessions efforts to reimpose tougher sentencing coupled with the end of DOJ review of police departments’ malpractice, will quickly reestablish our world record rates of incarceration of our minorities.  To facilitate this result, the DOJ is also relegitimating the use of private prisons.  That will increase capacity quickly.

  • Third, giving the states more control of America’s social safety net’s structure will permit the cleansing of many blacks, hispanics, and native Americans from the roles of recipients in states where these groups are not properly empowered.

Other aspects of the Trump presidency may be disturbing, but these strategic moves need to be discussed and fought openly for the preservation of our union. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Smart TV -- Progress in America (10)


In my plush armchair
edging toward sleep,
Old words sail to me,
Children weep, elders say
“Zwei Fahrkarten -
einfache nach Amerika –
tickets - one way.” 
I straighten up
stare at TV. 

The tube stares straight back; speaks to me.

Where will you run to Old Sinner Man?

    To the Bat Cave and Captain America if I can. 

See many brown shirts,
with many guns. Look there’s Trump!
With his followers dumb.
Guns in everyone’s hand.
Now what to do?
Where will you run to
old Sinner Man?

    I will run to Denmark if I can.

Danes take trinkets from refugees.
They won’t want a Jew who flees!
So where will you run to old Sinner Man?

    Is there no place to be
    no peace for me?
    Brown shirts leave me crazy with fright.

Donald’s next words float in the night:

    I’ll build the wall – Even if no one wants in.

    I’ll build the camp – Leave the bill for Jews to pay.
    Don’t lynch blackmen – we’re peaceful, it’s all in play
    Elect me Commander – Then the games really begin.
d4: Sunday, March 13, 2016

Saturday, April 4, 2015

3 Verses Inspired by Shelving Adam Zagajewski’s poems.

Trying to Shelve Adam Z


The Joy of Eating

Too sick to celebrate
but well enough
to eat what’s on my plate
I chewed on food for thought
and realized that such pleasure ought
to keep the poet at bay. 


Career choice

The laugh scared the poem away
and I was not sorry.
That must be why
I became – an accountant.


Adam’s Reprise

Under sheets and in the dark
threats of flames begin to spark –
envy, greed, lust consume us all as fuel
taken in as tyrants’ fools
leaving ashes on scorched, deserted plain
belying humanity with self-inflicted pain.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Considering Freedom on Passover 5775


Early spring morning, cold, East of the Med Sea
in the land where Abraham, the first temple used to be
where God sent Jesus, Joseph, and Abraham,
but hours from Jerusalem. 

Early spring morning, cold, in the past present or not at all
no longer on the green line but within the wall
somewhere specific between here and there
now reportable only as nowhere.

Early spring morning, cold, sun peaking over hills in the East.
Ari stands guard at checkpoint with his Uzi beast
loaded.  Two dogs there for just in case
means that his mind can adjust, not race
when problems come up.

Early spring morning, cold, still shadows where she walks,
Hajar – knows what to say but not to talk
Hebrew.  Under her black abaya Hajar’s mound grew
heavy, threatening, and out of view.
Up at the checkpoint now.

Ari sees the bulge, points and asks in his tongue
what under there might be slung.
She says, My baby!  I am now in labor.
Begs for help, asks for favor,
But he does not speak, Arabic. 

He barks for her to raise her gown
but all she understands is the frown.
Ari calls his officer over and Moshe
speaks, in Arabic – Raise your smock!
which she, for a man, certainly can not.

Feel my belly - is what she said
Don’t!  orders Moshe, If it’s a bomb we’re dead!
She screams in pain, turns around
walks some steps; kneels on the ground
prays to Allah for his help.

Late spring evening, cold, sun sets
behind a burned out vehicle she steps
delivers now without flair
her baby boy gasping for air.
Again she prays,  Allah, mercy.

Late spring evening, cold, some poor Arab screams,
Bastards! Don’t you see!  It’s just what it seemed!
The mother cries demanding care
The babe needs help but it isn’t there.
Ari, Uzi loaded, and with dogs

watches the infant gasp and die
goes home to forget, forgive and try
to understand the reason why occupation
is still imposed on this woman’s nation. 

Then celebrates freedom at his Sedar. 

Friday, January 23, 2015

Progress in America: (9) A Non-Cancer Diary? Part III

Those Second Opinions

    Of course, we were elated.  Took a few days off to celebrate our anniversary and then came back to see the 2 docs.  First I got hold of all the scans and radiology reports.  And that was an eye opener.  On the reports at the very top of the page line one was patient’s name, date of birth.  Line 2 was patient’s history.  On the early scans this was blank.  In the case of the recent scans, it said “Patient History: Prostate Cancer.”  And this seemed to make all the difference:

    Prescription 2 for the system: FRAMING is a real problem.  Diagnosticians must be trained to overcome this.  Just because you have a flag of a condition does not imply that what was earlier not problematic is now seen as a leading indicator.

    October 28th was a busy day.  We planed to see the first doctor (the rheumatologist) in the morning.  Then we’d go to Dr.  Jim for the bone doc’s take on it all.  Finally, I was to do a TV show on justice and Rawls.  The day started fabulously: one of my heros, Amartya Sen, got the US medal of arts and humanities from Obama.  That augered well.
   The rheumatologist, Dr. Jane, refused to look at the scans, only the reports.  Jane said she wasn’t well trained to look at scans.  After a thorough examination of my vital signs, and an interview she announced that maybe this scare was overblown by the radiologists.  Perhaps no biopsies were needed.  But to make sure, she wanted to look for blood markers of multiple myeloma, Padgett’s disease and a few other things.  But she felt none of these problems were likely.  But, since she didn't look at the scans, she felt that Dr.  Jim (who she knew) might have an experienced eye to evaluate the case.
    Afternoon.  It was Doctor Jim’s turn.  After a quick greeting, he immediately asked to see the scans. Slipping it into the computer, he mentioned that he had lost both his wife, and his brother to cancer. The scans came up, and he took one look at the bone scan, and said clearly, “This is going to   kill  you.  This is clear sign of metastized cancer.”  He then examined the MRI and said there were spots of importance in the left hip.  His message was clear and succinct:  The fact that the CT scans didn’t change over those years doesn’t change the need for a biopsy.  I have to find out what is going on. Quite possibly this is metastisized from the prostate but he wouldn’t rule out other forms of cancer. He thought Dr.  Jane’s choice of additional tests were spot on.  He said hold off sending the scans to J Hopkins till after the tissue was retrieved and analyzed.  He recommended a great person for the biopsy would be Dr.  Richard.  He was the same as Dr.  Lisa had recommended at Suburban.  Finally, he wished me luck and said he would like to continue being involved in this case. 

    Lesson 2 for the Doc and Prescription 3 for the system:  Honesty and full disclosure are not the same as lack of sensitivity in communication.  Learning how to express oneself should be part of the medical curriculum.

    I was a bit shaky at the TV show, but better than I might have expected.  (Check it out if you want.)    But back to the story: the next day, Wednesday, I called my doctor and made an appointment to see Dr.  Richard on Nov.  5.  I also called my urologist, Benny, to see him.  That appointment was for the 4th of November.

    Two days later, on Friday, Dr.  Jane called.  Tests ruled out multiple mylenoma and most other things (but not metastasized prostate cancer).  A few days passed and I saw Benny.  He was monitoring my prostate cancer.  Hearing all that transpired, he quickly concluded, that he was ‘certain’ this wasn’t metastasized prostate cancer to the bone.  He ruled that out on the basis of the Gleason scores, the general biopsies, the PSA tests.  He thought it would be unheard of for this to be metastasized prostate cancer.  He also was quite sure it wasn’t any form of bone cancer.  If I had metastasized bone cancer I’d be in a lot of pain, and would have lost a lot of weight.  To him, reading the reports of the CT and MRI scans, they seemed uninteresting.  But the bone scan looked very troubling.  He felt I should get a biopsy.  Best would be by Dr.  Richard.  He thought Richard had lots of experience, liked puzzles, was very good, might have some ideas.

    Lesson 3 for the Doc and Prescription 4 for the system: Don’t let test results drive your diagnostics if you have other mitigating information.  So, for example, the lack of pain, illness in my case should have caused doubt re the test results.

November 5 I saw Dr.  Richard.  The biopsy doc looked at all the scans with us for 45 minutes.  His conclusion: He eliminated hot spot after hot spot as coming from broken bones (blame biking in DC traffic) and arthritis (blame living this long and my mother’s family).  But two of the “hot spots” remained unexplained.  Looking at the CT’s carefully, he showed that these‘hot spots’ were associated with bone deformities and that they have not changed at all in 7 years.  Why these deformities would show up as absorbing more of the radio active material in the bone scan was not clear.  But it was more of a puzzle than a medical problem.  It was very unlikely metastasized anything. 

    Hint 2 for the Patient: Make sure all the information details of your case are being properly processed.

    We could still do a biopsy.  It would close the book as to cancer.  It would probably show no malignancy and then we could call it quits.  If it did show malignancy it certainly would be very slow moving.  So a week later, I got the biopsy.

Progress in America: (9) A Non-Cancer Diary? Part IV

Biopsy but not quite done

    The biopsy was not bad; my bones proved so healthy (strong), they bent the biopsy needle/drill.  But it was all done, all I had to do was to wait a week for the results.  The week came and went.  I called the hospital.  My results were sent to the wrong doctor. 

    Prescription 5 for the system: Make sure your files are accurate.

That day, Thursday, November 20, 2014, I had an early dinner of chicken and (organic mix) salad.  I went to my writers group at 6:30.  I had a decaf cappuccino.  Then it was off to sleep.

    But I woke up, with pain.  A very sudden cramping on the right middle / lower side of the abdomen.  Right where I had indicated an occasional light pain to begin with.  But certainly it was never so strong as to wake me up!  It was about midnight.  I tried to go back to sleep.  But it got much worse (maybe an 8 on a scale of 10 for pain).  By 2 a.m. the pain was sufficiently severe that I vomited.  The cramping continued.  I sat up and used a heating pad.  That helped a bit and I slept intermittently, shaking with chills. 

    The next morning was the Friday before Thanksgiving.  I stayed in bed with heating pad.   Had nothing but one piece of white toast with honey, water and decaf tea with honey.  The pain seemed to increase an hour or so after taking something to drink.  I had mild cramping in the morning, and my wife went to a meeting.  But by 2pm it quickly peaked into such pain as to induce vomiting.  No bowel movement.  Again I called my doctor.  She said it was probably food poisoning.  I should be better by the morning.  If not, I’d have to go to the ER and get a sonogram.  Oh, and by the way, the biopsy was negative: no cancer!

    The pain subsided but Saturday morning, I was still in bed with a heating pad.  At about 8.30 I had nothing but decaf tea with honey.  This was followed by mild and steady cramping and pain in lower abdomen.  Again, the pain increased after taking something to drink.  Went to hospital ER.  After a four hour wait at Suburban Hospital I got a preliminary examination.   Another 75 minutes and I saw a Doc.  He said it seemed like a kidney stone.  Needed to hydrate via an IV.  I said my doctor asked for a sonogram.  He ordered a CT scan.  I pointed out that I had 3 CT scans in the last 4 months.  He insisted on the CT scan.

    Prescription 6 for the system: Listen to the patient. 

    Prescription 7 for the system: Don’t go for the more expensive test just because it helps your cash flow.

    Hint 3 for the patient: Make sure you are listened to. 

    The CT Showed a large kidney stone – the size of a sugar cube.  (This would have been found with a sonogram.)  Clearly it was too big to pass.  Small shifts in its position could explain the pain.  But the CT also showed malformities in the upper kidney.  Soon I was experiencing excruciating pain in kidney again.  I needed IV pain killers and the doctors recommended I stay the night to monitor pain and get a 2nd opinion. 

    The next morning, Sunday, I felt fine.  No pain.  But now the new doc was suspicious of the malformities in the kidney.  He said they didn’t look like they had liquid in it - rather they appeared solid, like a tumor, not a cyst.  This could mean it was possibly malignant.  I needed a biopsy.

    This time I really I insisted – wasn’t there some other way to see if it was a cyst?  He said yes - a sonogram would give that information.  So I elected the sonogram.   It showed the problem to be cysts in my kidney.  I went home.  –

    Still to do?  Deal with a large kidney stone.  Not cancer.